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A dharna with a difference
By Arif Zain, Malappuram

The public of Calicut, the cultural capital of Kerala Muslims witnessed a dharna with a novel demand
that a property tax be levied on gold ornaments and a punishment tax on ostentatious marriages, in front of the Income Tax office on 19 June.

The dharna was organized by the Kerala State Committee of the Muslim Service Society Youth Wing as part of its campaign against dowry and ostentatious marriages, which was started two years ago. Mr. Manjeri Sundar Raj, senior advocate and human right activist, inaugurated the dharna.

Apart from its demand of levying a tax on gold ornaments the society suggested that the religious leaders and clergy should distance themselves from weddings where dowry was being transacted and that the law against the dowry be made more strict which at the moment was observed more in the breach. Cultural centres could help by not renting out marriage halls for ostentatious weddings and when they knew that the dowry was being received.

Prof. KV Omer Farouq, the president of the organization, while addressing the dharna said, that the campaign helped grow a mood among the public against ostentatious marriages across the state, and many mahallahs had co-operated with them taking measures to translate these ideas into reality. From this year onwards the MSS Youth Wing would conduct a mass signing campaign of oath cards by students before they got married to inculcate in their community the idea of not receiving dowry. The cards would carry anti-dowry oaths, he said.

Earlier the committee released a statement which pointed out that at a time when the state was plagued by mass family suicide, female foeticide, dowry harassment and increasing financial burden which trapped families in debts, it was in the fitness of the things that punitive action be imposed on grandiose wedding.

Reacting to the dharna of the MSSYW and its demand, Mr. Zuhair Chungattara, who has been fighting tooth and nail from early eightees against the dowry system, which is prevailing in the and Kerala Muslim community in its worst kind, under the banner of Bureau of Islamic Service Mission Information (BISMI), expressed his satisfaction over the decision of MSSYW and dubbed it as a brave step towards the eradication of dowry from a region where the so-called priests demand a proportionate share of dowry received by the bridegroom as a remuneration for ‘holding' nikah. After all some thing is better than nothing, he said. Mr. AP Abdul Qadir Farouqi, the general secretary of Kerala Nadwatul Mujahideen, the parent organization of BISMI congratulated the boys for taking such unique steps, and said that the KNM had found at last a helping hand in its tireless efforts to eradicate the evil practice of dowry and demanding heavy quantity of gold ornaments on the occasions of marriage. Mr. PM Muhammad Koya and Mr KC Kutty Ali also addressed the dharna
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